One of the key Success Drivers which underpins the success of any Agile Leader and their team is ‘Building Trust’ and what will certainly derail their success is lack of it.
The Agile Leader needs to encourage people to follow them into the future – but that future may be unclear and the path may be bumpy and uphill. In fact the Agile Leader will often have to ask others to follow even when they are not quite sure where they are going! So their people need to trust them and also trust one another to move forward.
But if trust is more important than ever, how do we recognise it – or quantify levels of trust? And, what are the practical things we need to do to build the high levels of trust needed in this VUCA world?
In this article we take a look at how you can build trust and also offer a couple of ‘take-aways’ to test out in your own organisation.
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How exactly do we build trust?
In our work with leaders and teams, we look to the work of Stephen Covey in his book The Speed of Trust. He provides many great insights into the impact of high trust on the ability of organisations to become both more agile and reduce costs. One of the most valuable aspects of this work is the identification of 13 behaviours which build trust and if absent will actively erode trust.
1. Talk Straight
2. Demonstrate Respect
3. Create Transparency
4. Right Wrongs
5. Show Loyalty
6. Deliver Results
7. Get Better
8. Confront Reality
9. Clarify Expectation
10. Practice Accountability
11. Listen First
12. Keep Commitments
13. Extend Trust
A powerful exercise which we facilitate with teams is to ask each team member to do a little soul searching and look at each of those 13 behaviours and rate themselves from 1-5 on how well, and how often, they practice each of them. Then we encourage them to do the same for their colleagues and identify one behaviour where they see them as being particularly strong and one behaviour they would encourage them to do more – or practice a little differently.
The resulting conversations and feedback are both powerful and constructive – really focussing attention on specific actions that can build greater trust in the team. For instance, one leader we worked with in a large blue-chip business was given two pieces of feedback from his team:
“You are great at Demonstrate Respect and Show Loyalty.”
“You are also very supportive and a great listener – but sometimes that means we don’t get as much ‘Straight Talk’ as we would like. We trust you – so you have earned the right to give it to us straight!”
We encourage you to try this exercise out with your own team at your next team meeting or off-site.
Trust – the foundation stone for agile team working
A lot of our work is with senior leadership teams and whatever the sector, whatever the geography in which they operate – the key factor, which determines performance, is the level of trust they share.
When trust is low, time is wasted with people second thinking one another, cc-ing every email to stay safe, double-checking everything and micro managing projects etc. All of this can waste time and increase costs.
Of course trust is important right across a team but it really does need to start with the leader.
In his book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shows that absence of trust is at the very foundation of the pyramid of the underperforming team.
Lencioni adds an additional factor to the trust equation – vulnerability. Leaders and team members who are not able to be genuinely open up with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust from which to climb the performance pyramid and deliver great results.
If you don’t have time to read his book, be sure to check out Patrick Lencioni’s YouTube video. A superb explanation of the 5 dysfunctions and what happens to a team when they exist and what you need to do to overcome them. Yes, it is almost 40 minutes viewing time but trust me – it is enlightening and entertaining and had us laughing out loud!
If you are interested in an assessment of your own team based on the 5 dysfunctions to identify where you are strong; where there might be a need for a little more attention; and where you might be most at risk –then get in touch and we will share with you some of the materials we use with teams to help them to do that.Get in touch
Watch out for the next in this series of Leadership blogs and join us as we take a look at another key success driver for Leadership Agility – Openness to People & Ideas.
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